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Samsung unveiled its hotly anticipated Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones at an event in New York on Wednesday, March 29. The phones have displays larger than the previous flagship Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge and feature ‘Infinity Display’ screens that curve and flow onto the sides. In addition, Samsung has removed the home button entirely.

Samsung’s new models will be available in ‘midnight black’, ‘orchid gray’, and ‘arctic silver’ and will begin shipping on April 21 with pre-orders having started on March 30.

The revolutionary design of the Galaxy S8 and S8+ begins from the inside out. “We rethought every part of the phone’s layout to break through the confines of the smartphone screen,” says Samsung on its website. All you see is pure content and no bezel. It’s the biggest, most immersive screen on a Galaxy smartphone of this size. And it’s easy to hold in one hand.

The ‘Infinity Display’ spills over the phone’s sides, forming a completely smooth, continuous surface with no bumps or angles. It takes up the entire front of the phone, flowing seamlessly into the aluminum shell. Not only are the S8 and S8+ screens the biggest displays for mobile devices of these sizes, with the 18.5:9 display ratio, you “get the whole scene on your screen.”

The S8 is also the first device to feature Bixby, Samsung’s new AI assistant. Samsung insists that Bixby is “fundamentally” different from those of its competitors, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Bixby “completely changes the way you interact with your phone,” says Samsung.

Bixby has a dedicated button on the side of the S8, which is unlike its rivals. It’s a “personal assistant” that understands talk, text, and taps so you’re never confined to one mode of communication. It “also completely changes the way you search.”

Samsung says the assistant has the capability to “see, remind and recommend,” which is creditable, but not necessarily exclusive to Bixby. However, one interesting aspect of Bixby is its ability to observe behavior patterns and add in reminders. For example, if you usually call someone at a particular time of the day, Bixby will ask you if you would like to call that person at that time if you haven’t done so yet. Samsung plans to make Bixby available on all of its appliances, including air conditioners and TVs.

The S8 and S8+ smartphones can be submerged for 30 minutes in up to 5 feet of water, like previous Samsung models. Another re-introduced feature is facial recognition to unlock the phone. The devices will feature an iris scanner which allows you to open the phone with your eyes, which was a feature of the recalled Galaxy Note 7.

Speaking at the launch event, DJ Kho, president of Samsung’s mobile communications business, addressed the elephant in the room: “As you all know, it has been a challenging year for Samsung,” he said, referring to the global recall of the exploding Galaxy Note 7s. “A year filled with valuable lessons, hard decisions and important new beginnings.”

Samsung confirmed on January 23, that faulty batteries were the cause for the random Note 7 explosions last year. Samsung Electronics was forced to recall the flagship device around the world and discontinued making them. The model was originally intended to compete against Apple’s iPhone.

The faulty batteries cost Samsung billions in profit and reputational damage. In a statement regarding the faulty Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, Samsung said internal and independent investigations “concluded that batteries were found to be the cause of the Note 7 incidents.”

“The launch of the new device must be perfectly executed for Samsung to gain innovation leadership and to gain market share in the high-end smartphone segment,” said Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst at research and advisory firm Forrester.

“Samsung only has a window of opportunity of several months before the launch of the 10th anniversary iPhone,” said Husson, referring to the iPhone 8 which is due to release later this year. Expectations for Apple’s new device are high because 2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone.

“The launch of Samsung’s new flagship is thus key for the brand even though it has managed to reduce its business dependency on smartphones, contrary to Apple.”

What’s in the Galaxy S8 box?

  • Device
  • USB Cable
  • Earphone
  • Ejection pin
  • USB power adaptor
  • Earphone
  • Quick start guide
  • USB Connector (USB Type-C)
  • Micro USB Connector
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